By Yashaswini Swamynathan
The S&P 500 and the Dow rose in choppy trading on the first day of December as the oil rally continued, but the Nasdaq marked losses due to declines in technology stocks.
Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent, with Brent futures rising to a six-week high of $53.34. The commodity rallied nearly 9 percent on Wednesday after major oil producers agreed to cut output and support prices – the first of such a move since 2008.
The S&P 500 energy index rose 0.88 percent, with shares of Exxon and Chevron leading the gainers.
Investors are now turning their attention to economic data to assess whether the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates at its meeting on Dec. 13-14.
The central bank has been preparing the markets for a rate increase amid improving economic conditions. Some Fed officials have said President-elect Donald Trump’s policies could boost inflation, pushing it closer to the central bank’s 2 percent target.
Financial index rose 0.7 percent on Thursday. The sector has risen 12.3 percent since the November election on prospects of an interest rate hike this month.
Traders have currently priced in a 90 percent chance of a rate increase in December.
At 9:41 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 36.16 points, or 0.19 percent, at 19,159.74.
The S&P 500 was up 0.69 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,199.5.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 8.32 points, or 0.16 percent, at 5,315.36.
Facebook was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq, falling 1.6 percent, after Canaccord Genuity cut price target on the stock.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading lower, with bond proxies such as utilities and real estate being the worst hit.
Bluebird Bio shares soared 23 percent to $75 after the gene-therapy developer said patients undergoing its multiple myeloma treatment showed strong benefits. Shares of Celgene, which is developing the therapy with Bluebird, was up less than 1 percent.
Dollar General fell 6.4 percent after the discount retailer reported a surprise drop in third-quarter comparable sales.
Express Inc fell 16 percent, while Guess Inc dropped 13 percent after the two apparel and accessories retailers cut their full-year profit forecasts.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,392 to 1,229. On the Nasdaq, 1,183 issues rose and 994 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 39 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and nine new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
Want a simpler portfolio strategy with amazing returns?
Only $24.99 Full color Paperback copy